Elmore Leonard, who died on Tuesday, , laid out his 10 rules for writing in a 2001 essay in the New York Times. He said they helped him "remain invisible when I'm writing a book" and summed up his approach by saying, "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
While acknowledging there were exceptions, these are the guidelines Leonard worked under:
1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said."
5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
(Editing by Bill Trott and Paul Simao)